Her clothes say be brave, be you, and her happy and healthy models are what bring it all together. We spoke with Elaine herself about her journey and the challenges of the fashion industry.
Elaine Hersby is a colorfully chic Danish designer whose clothes will inspire you to get creative in your own unique way. Her self-named brand began from her desire to see her wildest creations “come to life”, in a literal sense with her imagination fueling interesting shapes and designs to reality. The journey continues; now she gets to see her clothes walk around the world on many different beautiful bodies, breaking down barriers with authenticity and conviction.
We spoke with this amazingly talented designer about how she got her start, overcoming obstacles and the state of the fashion industry at the moment. Stick around to the end to see her designs in action, backstage at the SS18 show in August, serving so many summer vibes and backless beauties for days.
How did your brand Elaine Hersby come to be?
Well, I have been making my own clothes since I was a kid, but I guess it really started when I was studying concept development. I had this animation class where I had made an animation with some clothes that I had made just for myself. Then my teacher was like “why are you doing animation?”
Before this I had tried to get in to KADK (Royal Danish Academy of Design) twice, but didn’t get in, so I kind of gave up on it. But this teacher really made me think again, because I really wanted to design clothes, but just didn’t believe in it. So I made my bachelor project into this fictive brand called Elaine Hersby, and out of the blue, it got a lot of attention from the industry and it just took off from there.
In the beginning I just went with it and tried to do it my own way, but I figured out that I needed some more technical skills, like patternmaking and tailoring, so I went to the Scandinavian Academy of Fashion Design. After that I worked for Henrik Vibskov, where I learned more about how to run a label. So then I felt ready to create my first collection SS17, which got a lot of attention in Denmark and internationally. Shortly after, I got sponsored by Revolver Tradeshow.
Have you always been interested in fashion? What are your biggest influences stylistically, past or present?
When I was little, I thought it was really fun to wear stuff that no one else wore. Like cutting up jeans and sewing them back together, remodeling stuff in weird ways – stuff like that. Just doing something else. I’ve never really had a specific designer or style that I’ve followed. I’m mostly inspired by people who are passionate about what they do, and that can really change from season to season.
What does having “good fashion sense” mean to you?
Maybe it’s a cliché, but I think it means being original and just doing what you want, not necessarily following the trends.
As mentioned above, I get inspired by people and always try to stay true to my own personal visual identity and what I believe in. Having your own brand means creating clothing that reflects who you are as a designer. From that comes originality.
What made you motivated to begin your own clothing brand?
Sometimes when I wore some of my own stuff, people would come up to me and ask “who made this?” and it was so weird to say it was me. That recognition from people, from my teacher and eventually from Revolver really motivated me to keep doing my thing.
When it came time to begin the journey, what were the most important principles or ideas to keep in mind? Either in a practical sense or on a more general, personal, or even stylistic level?
Functionality has always been important to me – that you are able to move in my designs. This is definitely due to my background as an elite gymnast and my passion for dancing, skiing and surfing. I’m not a high heel kind of girl, but the brand has to be able to be styled for everyday and more formal use, depending on the girl.
When I do my shows and campaigns, it’s important for me to have beautiful girls with great personalities. Even though Fashion Week is very much focused on the buyers and the press, the real buyers are the customers and they need to be able to see themselves reflected. I use professional models, but also dancers and ‘normal’ girls. I choose the girls I believe fit the brand.
How has your brand evolved over time?
I have been showing the last 5 seasons and made collabs with NIKE, New Balance and Dr. Martens. The brand is now sold in different stores like Galeries Lafayette, STOY, Nørgaard Paa Strøget, Dr. Adams, etc. I’m very proud of the stores I have landed and that I have been contacted by stores like Barneys, Selfridges, Temporary showroom and other stores that are interested in our new collection AW19. For me, it’s important that we choose the right stores and only say yes to orders we can deliver. Everything is handmade in our studio in Copenhagen, so there is a natural limit to the size and amount of orders. Even though the brand is called Elaine Hersby, it’s not just me anymore. Now I’m surrounded by a lot of talented people who work on making the brand an even bigger success.
What makes you most inspired to create? Is collaboration important to you?
I get inspired by people and movement and have collaborated with different people during the past years. I followed Ida Praetorius for SS18. She is one of the best ballerinas at the Royal Theater. To see her dance and practice, along with the whole classical ballet universe, really inspired me.
How do you feel about the fashion industry at the moment?
I feel there is a lack of originality within the fashion industry in general. It seems like many designers get inspiration from the same things, or maybe from each other, instead of creating something original.
Do you think those involved in creating ~ style ~ should be held accountable for the messages they send to consumers? Perhaps as far as beauty or “lifestyle” standards?
Yes, definitely. It’s our responsibility to create an industry that people can relate to and see themselves in. Diversity is a reality and brands should reflect this.
What message would you give – if there were an ‘instructions manual’ – on how you encourage people to wear or experience your clothes?
There is no manual; you can basically do what you want. Mix and match styles and colours, use it for dancing or going out, the clothes are made for all occasions.
What is your advice to girls, women or female-identifying people in general?
Do what you feel is right – don’t let anyone tell you how you should feel. If you have a dream, follow it. The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t work out. If you are passionate about something you rarely regret trying.